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Interim road and bridge chief reacts to complaints
by Joe Baker
Jun 27, 2013 | 1418 views | 0 0 comments | 43 43 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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County equipment cuts brush at the intersection of County Road 271 and Private Road 1266 on June 19 about a quarter mile from an RV park owned by Ronnie Mitchell’s wife.
Joe Baker photo County equipment cuts brush at the intersection of County Road 271 and Private Road 1266 on June 19 about a quarter mile from an RV park owned by Ronnie Mitchell’s wife.
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KARNES CITY – Ronnie Mitchell, who was recently hired to temporarily manage Karnes County’s road and bridge department, has found himself in the awkward position of defending his decision to direct county employees and equipment to improve county roads directly adjacent to his wife’s RV park in northern Karnes County.

Complaints came forward accusing Mitchell of using his new position to improve access to his wife’s RV park so that the business could be more profitable, but Mitchell told county leaders in a meeting last week that the situation that developed was only an unfortunate coincidence.

Mitchell said that in an effort to secure donated water and road material with EOG Resources, he scheduled a meeting with EOG construction consultants Jason Gates and Greg West at their Gillett office.

During the meeting, EOG requested improvements to County Roads 271 and 275 due to the company’s development of six well sites and a production facility in the area.

“Both of those roads were one-lane roads, so there was no way that truck traffic could pass back and forth on those roads,” Mitchell explained to Commissioners Court during the June 21 meeting. “EOG used their construction equipment and contractors and bladed 275 and put rock on it at their expense and no cost to the county.”

Mitchell said EOG asked the county to shore up two culverts that had holes, and clear brush away from the edges of County Road 271. He said he sent a brush crew, a bobtail truck and a motor-grader to do the work to accommodate EOG’s request.

“As a result of that we received some complaints,” Mitchell said. “Just coincidentally, I am married to a lady that owns an RV park in that neighborhood and the complaints were that I was building a superhighway to my RV park. That is as far from the truth as it could possibly be. We got those roads up at the request from EOG, we did no work on anyone’s private property or for EOG. I think they are a good business partner, I want to do business with them and I am sorry that you had to take the heat from the complaints.”

Commissioner James Rosales said he did receive complaints about this but he agreed that Mitchell’s decision was good business practice.

“You are allowed to have a wife who is successful,” County Judge Barbara Shaw said.

The Karnes Countywide reached out to EOG construction consultants Jason Gates and Greg West for comment last week, but messages left were not immediately returned.
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